A company with a lot of telecommuter employees could never discount the importance of cloud computing capabilities to go with the IT and telecom infra in its enterprise. The cloud happens to be the main frontier of telecommuter work.
Businesses that thrive online more than offline are likely to be those that have a large number of telecommuter employees while having only a handful of staff to manage in a small conventionally run office. Such cases could be found in companies that offer products or services that have to do with web technologies, design or professional consultancy. Employees working for such companies are usually hired along a telecommuter work set-up where most of the work is accomplished online in locations of the employee’s choice. Multiple tech infra Most telecommuter set-ups are staged in the homes of telecommuter professionals or in alternative venues where pros find it conducive to do work not within the confines of a company workstation. For a company to be capable of efficiently operating under such a premise, the necessary online tech infrastructures need to be established and maintained in the long-term like the following:
- Online phone system with business VoIP extension networks. A high degree of real-time connectivity must be present and this could be achieved via a strong broadband connection running in the system that could support the powerful business VoIP features and functionalities. Companies would have to extend the VoIP to a telecommuter’s devices like smartphones, tablets or IP phones so that the connectivity remains constant and reliable at all times.
- Cloud computing apps and telecom systems. Cloud services for telecom, licensed software as service, and cloud storage apps that could allow file sharing with coworkers in various other remote locations are also necessary so that work collaboration could be done online to negate travel or legwork. Correspondence and paperwork also becomes efficient minus the common hindrances of physical distance and location.
- Mobile devices that are in sync with desktop devices. The data and information that telecommuters and their remote location coworkers share with each other could be transmitted and accessed via various modes like those done via smartphones, tablets, phablets or PCs. Telecommuters need to have their various devices in sync with each other regarding data and info to save on the time and trouble of cross-referencing these while in the process of collaborating with peers.
The main frontier You could only correspond efficiently with any telecommuter pro under your wing once all of them happen to be on the same telecom page as everybody else in the loop. Any collaborative work to be done together with any of your telecommuter employees could also only happen once you are all using the same cloud computing apps and services. Sharing files, for example, happens a lot easier when work collaborators agree beforehand about what cloud storage app that’s best for everyone to be using (e.g. Box, Dropbox, Google+, etc.) so that transmission and access becomes conveniently reliable for all. Work files could also be handled together online via suitable apps that allow coworkers to view, sample, and revise files in real-time. Smartphones, tablets, IP phones or PCs need to be in sync with coworkers’ devices in terms of the capability for videoconferencing or online meetings. Since all work is done online, the prospects of face-to-face discussions could be very minimal or nil. The closest that those collaborating on projects could get to such would be through video or call conferences via services or apps like Skype, RingCentral, or Google Hangouts and the like. Handling a telecommuter workforce becomes easier to manage once business owners become doubly keen on real-time, always on and readily accessible tech as the professional norm. The moment it becomes that, it soon becomes a way of life and nothing could be more convenient than such a business set-up.
It was found in a recent study that around 20% of employees around the world spend a part of their work week doing their jobs from home.
Seven percent of these are those who work from home every day. Telecommuting, remote work or telework is an arrangement wherein the employees do not come in their office (or commute, hence the term) or to a central place of work.
Some work from at home while others work from coffee shops or other locations. This type of arrangement is becoming widely used among different companies all over the world although their views and standards of these countries are far from the same.
Potential benefits of Telecommuting
For starters, it can actually save the company millions of dollars. It has a significant impact on a company’s overhead expenses, at the same time helps employees save money but cutting on a commute or gas costs. Similarly, less commuters and less car users also reduce traffic congestion, road accidents and pollutants.
The flexibility of time has also helped many employees balance their life better between work and the home. Studies have shown that an employee’s productivity increases in a telecommuting arrangement. It was even found that around 75% of business or organization owners notice happier employees. This may be credited to the fact that some employees get more stressed as they are in their workplaces.
Telecommuting has also been found to possibly help keep 83% more talented women in the workplace instead of leaving in order to stay at home.
Technology has made it easy for companies and their employees to stay in touch even when they do not physically see each other in the office. For example, with a stable Internet connection, employees can still be part of conferences via some web conferencing software or phone systems. Many companies have also developed their products, like the RingCentral virtual PBX, to accommodate the growing number of companies that have telecommuters. Employees are also able to access the company’s network, and send e-mails and reports via the Internet.
But as many benefits as it has, telecommuting has also raised some drawbacks and concerns as well.
What’s stopping them?
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns of employers is “losing control” over their employees who choose to work from at home. Experts say that telecommuting only works when employers hold their people responsible for the work they are doing from at home or outside the office.
At first, productivity rate was seen to drop, most probably because those concerned are still adjusting to the “new work regimen.” In the long term, however, surveys have found that the productivity of teleworkers will climb eventually.
Another concern is that in telework arrangements, employees need to work harder to maintain good relationships with their co-workers. Not seeing them every day may cause certain conflicts to arise and some telecommuters even feel a sense of disconnection from their office.
Security is also another issue that has been raised with regards telecommuting. It was found that many telecommuters do not use their company’s data backup system that may put a lot of sensitive information at risk. Information technology issues have also been raised as one of the main problems of working from a location outside the office.
Telecommuting, in some cases, may also negatively affect a person’s career. In a recent survey it was found that people who telework are less likely to get promoted because executives cannot promote people into leadership roles if they haven’t been consistently seen and monitored.
There indeed is a lot of improvement needed for those who allow telecommuting in their offices. But one thing is certain. By giving a lot of support to their employees, businesses will definitely benefit from their being more productive, happier and healthier, regardless of where they choose to work.
Typically, a company includes a list of potential risks when drafting a disaster recovery plan. After identifying these risks, the next step is to assess the damage that could be associated with those risks. This is one of the more difficult portions of disaster recovery planning. This is simply because businesses cannot accurately assess the damage associated with particular risks. It is recommended that companies use a disaster recovery service, rather than attempt in-house recovery, for that very reason.
Why Disaster Recovery? Why Assess the Damage?
A lot of companies skip the step of assessing the potential damage for disaster recovery risks. Though it may seem grim, assessing what damage a risk can create is crucial to be prepared for an event. When a disaster recovery plan does not have protocols for handling a particular risk or threat, a business cannot recover effectively.
One Cause, Multiple Effects
Businesses should realize that all risks will have more than one effect. For example, if a building suffers from a fire there will be multiple effects associated with that fire. Therefore, each risk assessed should have its multiple effects listed in the disaster recovery plan. Then a protocol should be created for handling them. Using the fire example, consider the following:
The building will ultimately have structural damage. In some instances, the entire building will be destroyed and all of the contents gone with it. The disaster recovery plan would need to devise a backup location to house the workforce. In addition, protocols need to address how to handle the hardware, furniture and other interior items that are damaged.
Disruption of Power
When a fire breaks out, power will be cut off. In this situation, the company’s servers and networks can lose essential power to function. Therefore, the disaster recovery plan should implement a protocol for backup power supply or a backup storage location.
Inability to Work
When there is no physical location to report to, where will employees go? Disaster recovery plans need to account for the employee factor. Employees should have a backup office location or work-from-home plan if disaster incapacitates the company’s physical location. Data centres are a good solution for this problem.
A disaster would most likely wipe out all telecommunications. The business cannot contact employees, clients or even vendors from its office location. Therefore, the plan should implement a procedure for how to handle the telecommunications failure, such as a backup location.
Data Systems Destroyed
Fires will destroy data systems quickly. The disaster recovery plan should have a backup data centre or storage location where critical system information will be stored. It should be able to be easily accessed for quick recovery.
When a business creates a thorough disaster recovery plan, the chances of it staying out of commission are relatively low. In order to create an accurate plan, the business needs to honestly assess its risks. It also must honestly assess the impact those risks will have on its ability to operate. From there, a plan on how to act when disaster strikes and how to counteract the effects of that disaster can be drafted. This plan will be the difference between being closed for a short time and being closed for good.
The utilisation of innovative technologies in Investor Relations gains more and more weight. The global finance crisis led to uncertainties across financial markets. The reactions on incoming news and information from Investor Relation departments impacted the market heavily.
That is why it is now an important task for the management of such companies and their Investor Relations departments to re-gain trust. The target is to enable a target-driven direct communication to investors, analysts and other stakeholders without giving a wrong impression or deliver data that would lead to wrong assumptions. For this communication to happen, more and more organisations utilise innovative technologies. Such technologies are also known as “Unified Communications” tools and aid Investor Relations significantly with the efficient communication with a usually large number of recipients. On top of that many investors and analysts are scattered across the globe and therefore subject to time zone related difficulties.
Important technologies within the Unified Communication tool-set utilised in Investor Relations are:
Video Conference Services
Video conferencing services allow organisations to rapidly and easily get in contact with one or many investors or analysts. This way of communicating is becoming more and more attractive as the prices for video conference system deployments have significantly going down recently – becoming a much more affordable solution. Beyond the normal functionality of communicating with audio and video dimensions, high-end video conferencing technologies also allow sharing screens or other digital content into the video conference, such as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations or business plans in form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for instance. Now one is able to present such files live without sending the data per mail prior to a meeting., which cuts a lot of issues like “having an out-dated file” at hand during the conference. Video conferencing not only is a great way of delivering high quality communication, but also can save a lot of costs and increases productivity of teams. While Investor Relations officials would be required to take a plane to fly to an appointment, now the very same person can save time and costs by arranging a video conference and getting the message across to many even on the same day.
Live Video Streaming via IP
Another way of delivering information from important events is the live video stream via internet or intranet. Like this an organisation can easily broadcast from an annual general meeting (AGM) and deliver a video feed in HD not only to on-site audience but also to remote investors and analysts. The video stream could be watched from Notebook, PC, Mac, Tablet or even from Smartphones. With Digital Signage the event could be embedded into information displays that could be deployed in meeting rooms or public areas. The possibility of facilitating IP Video Streaming do not always require an own infrastructure and staff for events that happen only once per year. They can be also booked as a service and the streaming solution will be provided by specialists at scalable costs. If an organisation however runs events at a high frequency or requires video transmission for other reasons, they can invest in own infrastructure and managed services to look after their infrastructure. This would enable an organisation to flexibly utilise video streaming solutions and would save costs on long-term outlook.
A Video-on-Demand solution serves archiving purposes and enables the playback of any previously recorded videos, video conferences or events in case someone could not attend the live video stream. You could for example provide access to shareholders, who would usually not be able to see the live broadcast due to being in another time zone. This kind of solutions is also known as “Corporate YouTube” using the role of YouTube as “mother” of all Video-on-Demand platforms. Also for Video-on-Demand solutions organisations can choose between solutions managed and hosted for them or deploy them in their own infrastructure and have it supported by managed services to ensure a maximum availability to the users.
In summary we can see that innovative technologies such as Unified Communication tools are utilised in Investor Relations and being a great value-add to the communication and delivery of information towards stakeholders of internal and external nature. A business case is relatively quick assembled, since the technologies increase quality in communication and also steadily decrease costs that would normally be spent on travel and hotels. Also the technologies can greatly increase productivity of teams even if they are not in the same place.